In recent years, Determined to Develop’s (D2D) Female Youth Empowerment Program (FYEP) for girls has grown substantially. The program is a safe, women’s only space for girls to talk about all sorts of development issues and challenges that are unique to them.
After completing a two year pilot, whereby the Girls Clubs have been active and meeting weekly, D2D initiated a program better organize content delivery and scale up our impact due to the increased attendance and engagement from local female youth. To reflect this increased interest, D2D made improvements to the structure and delivery of the program.
The program aims to provide a platform for female youth to discuss challenges and participate in a holistic non-formal education program conducive to the local context. D2D now host three girls clubs; Primary Club (sixth, seventh and eighth graders), Junior Club (forms 1-2; High School Freshmen and Sophomores) and Senior Club (forms 3-4; High School Juniors and Seniors), in order to provide weekly age appropriate sessions to over 200 female youth.
In 2016, D2D was assisted by research interns from the University of Livingstonia (Malawi) and the University of Dayton (USA) to conduct primary qualitative research involving over 100 female youth from the Chilumba region in order to assess the most pertinent problems they face on a daily basis. This research included girls from Standard 5 to Form 4, (8-19 years, the age range of girls attending D2D’s Girls Clubs) as well as school dropouts and young mothers. The results have allowed D2D to gain a clear idea of the deeper reasons early marriage, early pregnancies, school dropout and academic underachievement occur regularly in the local context and D2D has customized its new program to address these issues.
Based on the findings of the study, D2D staff and research interns identified 24 topics to be used in a purpose built curriculum. Topics range from peer pressure, HIV/AIDS and sexual harassment to goal setting, study skills and public speaking skills. Three different age appropriate curricula have been formulated, based on a two year program. Once participants have graduated one group, they move into the next, moving from basic knowledge in the Primary Girls Club, through to advanced knowledge in the Junior and Senior levels.
Sessions are unique (not repeated) within the two-year structure. This will enable D2D to strengthen its individual monitoring process of individuals and provide a clear target for the participants: to graduate each of the three groups and thus have participated in a unique empowerment program which offers sessions parallel to the concerns voiced by beneficiaries.
D2D is currently piloting the curriculum over two years, providing essential skills and understanding in key identified areas. This unique program development embodies D2Ds ethos: identifying and implementing sustainable, community driven solutions to local development challenges. Staff and beneficiaries at D2D are excited about the future of the FYEP and are proud of its progression.